Promoting your Dive Centre

Use a variety of different methods to promote your dive centre

There are lots of places where you can promote your diving centre, and lots of companies who will tell you that they have a 'great solution for you' which will bring in customers by the score. Yeh right.

You can promote yourself in the 'obvious' places such as Yellow Pages, Scuba Diving Magazines, Catalogs, Tourist Information centres; Other print options include brochures, catalogs, posters, stationary. You could strike partner or affiliate deals with other recommenders or booking agencies; You can promote yourself with 'outdoor' advertising from signs above your front door to special poster, advertising or publicity sites. You can paint your vehicles (and boats), give your staff a 'uniform' polo shirt or outfit. You can try radio or TV advertising or any of the 'new technology' marketing methods such as the web, mobile technologies or social networking. Finally don't forget Public Relations (PR), and make sure that you are getting articles published in appropriate journals

The problem is that nobody has deep pockets. It is often said that 50% of your advertising is seen by prospective clients, and 50% is not; but the problem is you never know which 50% is working. You only want to spend a limited amount of money this year, but you want to get the best possible return from it. This is where you need to think about 'laser marketing'. How do you spend a little money, target and immediately find the customers that will pay you lots of money, enjoy the type of diving that you do, and then go away and recommend you to lots of other divers?

This is where you go back to your definition of your customers (see the worksheet on page xxxx). Look at the definition of the customers that you want to attract, and try to work out what sort of media they may use to find your dive centre.

Example of matching promotion to customer profile

Lets take two theoretical dive centres and look at how different promotional methods may be more or less appropriate:
  • Example 1 - A dive training centre in a busy city, not on the coast "Most of our divers will be beginners and courses, with most having completed less than 20 dives. There will be a mix of singles, couples and families. They will be predominantly from one language and cultural group, and mostly live with 30 minutes drive time of the dive centre. In addition to diving activities they will be equipment buyers and may form 'communities' such as local clubs or groups. They may dive locally for training, but they mostly learn here so that they can go diving while on holiday"
  • Example 2 - A beach-front dive centre in a popular (foreign) tourist destination (not renown for the quality of diving). "Most of our divers will be daycourses or beginners or divers without much experience. They will either be couples or family groups, with some children. Most will dive for one day or do an introductory course such as PADI Open Water or Scuba Diver. They will come from a select group of countries (eg England, Germany, Scandinavia) and will want dives which have good margins of safety. The language they speak is not the local language. Very few locals use the diving centre. Because they flew here they only buy small items such as books and T-shirts and masks but rarely buy big items unless they are significantly cheaper here than at home."
Promotional Method1. City2. Resort
Yellow PagesCost effective, distributed to all, low cost with easy availability Can be difficult with language problems - Can visitors find the right category, what language do you use?
Radio AdvertisingGet a good deal and you get a wide reach. Slots such as 'drive time' can have high impactTourists struggle to find stations and listen instead to their iPods.
LeafletsDistribution costs can be high and wastage high. Use selectivelyDistribute effectively through partners such as Hotels and Tourist Information and this can be low-cost and effective.
E-mail MarketingUse with existing customers to get repeat sales, equipment sales, special offers.Use with customers to build long term values, encourage repeat visits, new experiences or recommend partners.

As you can see from above, you may use a given method or promotional tool in different ways depending upon just which customers you are targetting. So, if you are being offered 'special advertising', or new promotional routes; our tip is simple: Get out your profile of your target customer and ask yourself how many of them will see this type of promotion. If you are not sure.. then wait till an offer or opportunity comes along where you are absolutely sure, that the divers you want to come into your centre, will actual see or read your publicity.

Consistency in your promotion

Whichever methods you choose, it is important to give a consistent message in your promotions. Always use your promotiona materials and programmes to reinforce your 'brand values'. Keep pushing the core eloements of your service in a continuous way, and try to avoid changnig designs, messages or layouts too frequently

The importance of technology in promotions